Category Archives: Blessings

thankful Thursday

This has not been my most stellar week, beginning with preSYNCOPE-SUNDAY, then moving on to MODERATELY-hit-by-a-MACK-truck-MONDAY, oh-so-TIRED-TUESDAY, and WILL-I-get-out-of-bed-WEDNESDAY.  But today is THANKFUL-THURSDAY, so I am ready to celebrate, as I type from our cozy couch, wrapped up with a red herringbone blanket, enveloped by the foggy, gray morning.

Thursdays really are “thankful Thursdays” at our house, initiated when we realized we had WAAAAY too much complaining around here and WAAAAY too little gratitude.  At dinner, everyone gets to (has to!) say one specific person for whom he/she is thankful that week.  We also decided you can’t pick the same person multiple weeks in a row, which we enacted when a certain kid said “the garbageman” about six weeks straight.  (Hey, we ARE thankful someone picks up our trash, but let’s share the love, okay?)

Anyway, this thankful Thursday, I am thankful for these people this week:

B, who is having my kids over today and offered to drop off a Starbucks drink for me at the door (“at the door” is so nice when you don’t have energy to visit right then)

K, who came over with a delicious lunch

J, who stopped by to season and shape burger patties with the meat I’d bought earlier (and thanks to my grillmaster, M, who has done an inordinate number of dishes this week)

D, who is doing a Costco run for me

R and C, who are coming tomorrow to mop floors, clean counters, scrub bathrooms (and P, who offered to help with anything this week!); another R and C, who gave us a gift card for us all to go out one night

M and S, who checked out a bunch of library books for me to read as I rest

N and J, who brought yummy food for us

K, C, M, A, P, S, and many others, who pray for and encourage me from afar

P, who sent me the best news of the week with an adorable, creative card announcing her pregnancy

Wow.  I am truly blessed beyond measure. There are many others who have come alongside me in so many ways that I haven’t mentioned and many others who are happy to help with anything, anytime– I am so amazed and grateful!

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

An Easter encounter

Have you ever met an angel?  I don’t know if I have, but I did experience an extraordinary encounter last Easter.

My family and I went to a beautiful city park last Easter during the afternoon.  My husband parked my wheelchair near some stone benches, while he and the kids explored the nearby rocks and boulders.  A man, who’d been sitting nearby, approached me to ask how long I’d been using the wheelchair and why.  “Oh, boy,” I thought, “here we go.”  I often end up getting comments and advice, and I had hoped for some quiet relaxation in the sun, rather than “helpful” tips from a stranger.

This man, though, didn’t try to fix me or my situation but revealed that he was no stranger to suffering.  He had been in a car accident that had broken a number of his bones, and he’d stopped using a wheelchair just months before.  He went on to tell me that he’d been celebrating Easter with his wife and kids over lunch when a friend called with a car emergency.  He drove across town, helped the friend, and was headed back home to his family when he sensed God directing him to stop at this park, because God had someone he should speak to.  He thought I was that person.

“Oh, great,” I thought, “now I’m really in for it,” leery of the questionable theology I feared would soon come out of his mouth.  At the same time, though, I was a bit intrigued.

The man, who had an Old Testament name I’ve forgotten, went on to tell me of God’s love for me, as revealed in the Scriptures.  This man did NOT assure me of physical healing to come soon.  He did NOT berate me for a lack of faith that surely brought on my illness.  He simply told me he knew God wanted him to speak of God’s love specifically for me on that day.

My husband, who’d been keeping an eye on all this, walked over to join us, and the man prayed for all of us, then left the park to head home to his family.

Wow.  I don’t know what that encounter was all about, but I do believe that man truly was a follower of Jesus, as I am.  I also believe God DID prompt him to come talk to me that Easter Sunday, to share hope and truth.  This man couldn’t have known that I have at times struggled to believe that God loves me, Kristi, personally and specifically.

How precious that the God of the universe would ordain for one of His children to seek out another, to share the enormity of the love we were both celebrating that Easter Sunday.  God does so love the world, but He also loves just ME, all by myself, and just YOU.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

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Have you ever made resurrection rolls? We love wrapping the Jesus marshmallow in the crescent roll tomb, then after baking them, taking a bite to find an empty tomb!
happyeaster
And here are the kids on Easter 2015!

All thy sorrows soon shall end

Who, as I have, has ever felt comfortless, sorrowful, and afraid?  Who feels alone, lost, and broken?

Someone Else knows just what that is like.  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  Tomorrow is Good Friday, and it is so good, because of something so bad.  Our High Priest bore wrath, agony, trials, abandonment, betrayal, that His children might not have those things poured out on us for eternity.

I came across these prayer cards, filled out by the kids last year on Easter.  Their prayers WILL be mightily answered one day!
I came across these prayer cards, filled out by the kids last year on Easter. Their prayers WILL be mightily answered one day!

I’ve had the following lyrics taped on my kitchen window for a long time now, and I hope they will encourage you.  They are two of the verses in John Newton’s “Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart.”

Fear thou not, nor be ashamed,
All thy sorrows soon shall end.
I who heaven and earth have framed,
Am thy husband and thy friend.
I the High and Holy One,
Israel’s GOD by all adored,
As thy Savior will be known,
Thy Redeemer and thy Lord.

Though afflicted, tempest-tossed,
Comfortless awhile thou art,
Do not think thou canst be lost,
Thou art graven on my heart.
All thy walls I will repair,
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew,
And in thee it shall appear,
What a God of love can do.

Happy Easter from us to you!  (No, I'm not ahead of the game.  I have no idea what anyone will be wearing Sunday, but enjoy a 2014 pic!)
Happy Easter from us to you! (No, I’m not ahead of the game. I have no idea what anyone will be wearing Sunday, but enjoy a 2014 pic!)

Take a few minutes these next few days to meditate and worship.  And, most of all, I dare you to HOPE.  Easter is coming.

And let's be honest:  A pic of just the kids is way cuter.
And let’s be honest: A pic of just the kids is way cuter.

Top Ten List of Blessings from POTS/NCS

Sometimes it’s easy for me to focus on the limitations POTS/NCS causes.  After all, I feel and experience them throughout the day, everyday.

However, I’m also beginning to be able to see more clearly the blessings, yes, true blessings, this illness has brought into my life.

In random order, here is my TOP TEN LIST OF BLESSINGS FROM POTS / NCS:

10.  A more slow-paced lifestyle.  I am beginning to see that maybe I was a little too busy back in the day.

9. More compassion for those who suffer.  I have a long way to go, but I am beginning to truly understand, in some ways.

8. Greater dependence on God.  I need Him every hour.  Literally.

7.  Fewer wrinkles.  How’s that for a perk?  A friend mentioned once that my face looked so great, and I realized my new, low-stress life does seem to be stopping my wrinkles in their tracks.

6. Seeing God at work, actively caring for me and our family.  He has not abandoned us.  (I can’t wait to read the 2015 Blessings Jar on New Year’s Eve.)

5. Our kids seeing Mama can’t do it all and needs their help, thus they are getting good practice serving.  Our oldest son got the CLEANING AWARD at a recent youth group retreat.  (Yikes… hope that wasn’t too embarrassing.) Turns out, he rocked while cleaning their cabin, after meals, etc, maybe partially because all three kids now know their way around some toilet bowl cleaner, dustpans, Windex, you name it.

4. Noncompeting schedules in our marriage, since mine is quite free. (Not a necessity, but I’m enjoying the blessing aspect.)

3. More of my physical presence around the house for my family.  While they’re here, I am not often out and about doing errands, meetings, get-togethers, etc.  I think they really like this. (Ditto, parenthetical statement above.)

2.  Seeing God’s people help in so many ways.  This is a huge encouragement.  After we recently enjoyed a fantastic meal someone brought, I told Mark, “This makes being sick a lot more tolerable.”

1.  Freedom to wear cute shoes that may be too big, too small, or a bit uncomfortable– and not have them wear out– since I don’t walk that much.  Ladies, this is AWESOME!  My shoes always look brand new.  (The scuff marks below are certainly all from previous owners, I’m sure!)

"Kristi, you are so good at arranging your pristine shoes, you should be a display stylist," said no one, ever.
“Kristi, you are so good at arranging your pristine shoes, you should be a display stylist,” said no one, ever.

Hey, when you find a cute pair, it’s nice not to have to worry about pesky details like whether the shoe actually fits!

 

God’s GOT this!

So I was going to do a long-delayed blog post the other day.  I summoned up my remaining shreds of energy, turned on the computer, found a cute picture, and… Internet Explorer would NOT load.  I mean it!  It was not going to open.  I clicked, double-clicked, right-clicked, went thru various menus– NO SOUP FOR YOU! (I mean, no Internet for me!)  I couldn’t get online at all.

Hence, no blog post.

God cracks me up.  For a couple years now, He has been “canceling” things that I put on my agenda. We signed up to host missionaries one weekend– nope, sorry, turned out they have relatives in town.  I tried to sign up to bring a new mom a meal — oh, too bad, turns out the meal plan was either deleted or was unavailable to my eyes only.  We made plans to keep a young couple’s baby so they could have a date.  Oops, surprise, their inlaws showed up in town that afternoon to take the whole family out– no babysitting happening.

One “good” thing after the next that I’ve tried to do has been canceled over the last couple years. I’ve gotten the hint and try to make my own “helpful” plans a lot less often, for this current season.

I truly believe God is telling me, “I’ve got this! I do not need you to do all sorts of things to enact My kingdom purposes.  I love you too much to let you think you can find your worth and identity in DOing.  Just be– be mine.”  (Seriously:  One particular time as I cried out to Him in frustration at being unable to DO, I heard Him respond to my heart, “Kristi! I’VE GOT THIS!”)

I love it. He is helping me surrender teensy bit by teensy bit.

Where do you need to surrender and BE?  Or, where might be God asking you to step out in faith and DO?

“Be Mine” this Valentine’s Day

Sometimes, when you are suffering, you may feel as though God doesn’t love you.  He may seem far off; He may seem to have it in for you; He may seem out of touch with your struggles.

What if, though, your suffering is a sign NOT of His lack of love for you, BUT of His GREAT LOVE for you?  What if God loves you so much that He decides for suffering to enter your life so that He can draw you close to Him, so that He can wean you from the siren calls of this world and open your eyes to the greater call of His plan?

Will He help you say, with Paul, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11)?  We do not serve a God who is unfamiliar with suffering but One whose earthly purpose in life included suffering out of obedience, that He might reunite us with the Father.

I love how Laura Story captures some of this thinking in her song “Blessings.”

Even more, though, I love “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go.”  I have, many times, put this song on repeat and just blasted it.  I hope it encourages you– I love these two verses in particular:

O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

This has been, for years, one of my funeral songs– you know, a song you want sung at your funeral.  If you have a funeral song, what is it?

Where do you see God’s love in the midst of the sadness, the loneliness, the injustice, the horror?

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43:18-19)

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Heading to the movies with POTS

My husband loves movies; I like some of them okay but get a bit antsy sitting through them, and now that I have POTS, the whole movie theater experience definitely brings on sensory overload that can take a while to recover from, as I unfortunately discovered this past summer when I took the kids to a dollar movie one morning.

So, my husband found it awesome when I surprised him with a trip to a REAL movie last month, and he found it fairly hilarious when I sat down beside him looking like this:

Kristi at the movies...with POTS!

Hey, it worked!

Here’s his caption:  What it takes to “endure” a movie with POTS/NCS! She was completely exhausted, but she was not “broken”!  (Ha ha– we had gone to see Unbroken.)

I hope you’re liking these posts about Fun with POTS.  More to come, Lord willing!

It’s my birthday, and I’ll smile if I want to

It IS my birthday, and I AM smiling!  Maybe you don’t always feel ready to party with POTS, but be encouraged by the fun I’m having on my birthday weekend.  A change of scenery and something to look forward to can make a huge difference for someone with a long-term illness.

Mark surprised me yesterday with a trip to the Biltmore Estate to see a display of costumes worn in Downton Abbey– yes, the REAL costumes actually worn by Lord and Lady Grantham; Mary, Edith, and Sybil; Lady Violet; and Matthew and Branson from Seasons 1-4.  There were dozens to see– SO cool.

The first two floors of the Biltmore were wheelchair-friendly, and we even got to ride the oldest continuously running elevator in the Southeast, complete with original motor from the 1800s.  How’s that for a perk (seeing as it didn’t break down while we were on it)?

What is this pose? !?! Is it 1995, at the prom?  We just need a little lattice to really rock it out.
Thank you, Biltmore photographers, for posing us like we’re at the prom in 1995.  Wow.  If only we had a little lattice to really rock it out….

The main tricky thing about wheelchair adventures (besides nausea) is that you see everything from about the height of an eight-year-old (definitely different for me, since I’m almost 5’9″ and used to looking over people’s heads)… but the Biltmore was well prepared and even know exactly how many steps it would have taken me to go up to the third floor (I’d been there before, so I passed this time but got to watch a video that displayed the rooms I could not access).

Mark was awesome.  He planned the whole thing and even scheduled it so we didn’t spend too long there, knowing I’d wear out quickly, and had us back to our hometown to have a restful afternoon at home.  (Full disclosure:  It was 3 p.m. and I crawled right into bed.) He tells me he has more surprises in store this weekend… I’m excited!

I wanted to make a big chocolate chip skillet cookie and homemade ice cream on my birthday (Yes, I could buy them, but where does one buy sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free desserts?  That’s called fruit.), but considering how I felt and deciding to conserve energy, I only made the ice cream, below.  No problem:  I added chocolate chunks to get the feel of the whole dessert thing.  This recipe is adapted for our family’s current digestive needs using the general idea of the dairy-free ice cream recipes on The Spunky Coconut.  Mark and I thought it was pretty much the most amazing thing ever; two kids ate it… with tons of Hershey’s syrup on top… and one kid didn’t eat it at all.  Hey, more for us!

fambday

Birthday Butter Pecan Ice “Cream”

1 can light coconut milk
1 frozen banana
3 Medjool dates, soaked in 1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp gelatin, dissolved in 1/4 c boiling water
big dollop sunflower seed butter
dollop vegan butter, cooked to attempt a faux brown butter
almond and vanilla extracts, to taste (more almond than vanilla)
3-4 drops liquid stevia, to taste
salt, to taste  (you want butter pecan ice cream to taste a bit salty)

Combine all (including the liquid in which the dates soaked) in a high-speed blender; adjust flavorings, sweetness, and salt.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Pour into prechilled ice cream maker and process, according to manufacturer instructions.  Toward the end, add chopped pecans (and maybe dark chocolate chunks).  YUM!

Notes: Full-fat canned coconut cream tastes better and gives better consistency; also, it tastes better if you use more dates (8-10) and eliminate the banana.  We used sunflower seed butter, but almond butter would be better.

bdayicream

Cards, texts, and Facebook messages from friends and family are making my day fantastic.  Never underestimate how encouraging a few kind words can be!  Thanks to all who are helping me celebrate!

P.S. Lest you think our kids are deprived, neighbors we haven’t seen in months just rang the doorbell– I opened the door to find them bearing a large container full of gluten-full, sugar-full, dairy-full cinnamon rolls.  They had no idea it was my birthday– and the kids will get to, first-hand, TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!

Alive and well this New Year

Friends, I have not dropped off the face of the earth.  I’ve been avoiding the computer like the plague (because, when I use it, I often feel like I have the plague) but am otherwise alive and well.

Actually, quite well.  For whatever reason(s), I have felt so much better this past week than I have for a couple years– more energy, clearer thinking, ability to stand/walk longer… still the typical POTS symptoms, but less so.

Interestingly, I have also had quite high blood pressure this week(hypertensive category, believe it or not)– I’ve never seen numbers like that from this body!  (I do take lots of midodrine to increase my BP.)  I’ve also had normal blood pressure at many points.  This is a huge difference from the bottomed-out numbers I typically see, and I am sure this explains why I am graying out less when I’ve been upright this past week.  I’ve also gained quite a few pounds compared to a few weeks ago– maybe that means I’m hanging on to the salt and fluid that could help my blood stay thicker, which is a good thing!  (Or was it just too many Christmas goodies?!?)

You may be interested to know that I have, on average, doubled the amounts of steps I’ve taken per day (around 3,000) compared to the amount I was taking during Christmas break (around 1,500).  Thanks to my handy pedometer for verifiable data!

Most significantly, many friends continue to pray for me regularly and/or daily, which is just amazing to me.  I am so thankful!

Well, that’s the quick update from my neck of the woods…. we’ll see whether other blog posts materialize as I face the perils of sitting in front of this screen.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Field (trip) of dreams

Okay, maybe this seems cheesy, but I always wanted to be a wife and mom when I grew up, and once I became a mom, I always wanted to go on field trips with our kids when they reached school age.

When our oldest was almost 10, I finally helped with one in the spring of 2013, per his request.  Unfortunately, I was developing POTS and NCS (but in some denial about it) and ended up almost passing out after standing in line in the restroom.  (I didn’t know then that being upright now causes blood to pool in the lower half of my body and not enough blood reaches my brain.)  I had to be wheeled across the host school’s gym (this was at a competition two hours away) in an office chair to the athletic trainer’s office while I lay on a mat for quite some time and tried to convince them NOT to call the EMTs. That put a damper on the field trips for a while.

Do I LOOK like I need an EMT?  No, I do not; thank you very much.
Do I LOOK like I need an EMT? No, I do not; thank you very much.

Fast-forward eighteen months, and VOILA! I recently went on a field trip with our middle son!  POTS and NCS has somewhat stabilized (at least some of the time), due to treatment, and the field trip location was a quiet, small, local museum.  I knew it would be cool enough and not too overstimulating, and I thought I could handle it.  My biggest fear was almost passing out, followed by severe body tremors, in front of the schoolchildren (always a little disturbing), so I asked my Bible study group to pray specifically that would not happen.  Unfortunately, I had several bad spells of presyncope the weeks before the trip, so I told the teacher I needed to be an “honorary” chaperone and couldn’t be counted on to help in case I needed rest time during the trip.

Armed with salty electrolyte drinks, I was ready to go.  I met the class at the museum, and my son rushed to meet me to help wheel me into the building.  I always think my kids will be embarrassed to have their mom in a wheelchair, but he was very proud to be able to push me around.

I find it fairly funny that my younger two can't actually SEE where they're going when they push me.
I find it fairly funny that my younger two can’t actually SEE where they’re going when they push me.

The whole event went just fine.  I guzzled the drinks and did deep breathing and basically tried to preserve energy the whole time and was thrilled to make it through without any visible drama.  Although I had to go straight home and rest, rather than continue with the class to a picnic lunch at a nearby park, I was thankful to experience a dream come true! (How’s that for cheesy?)

fldtrip3

My favorite quote of the morning:  Luke’s class had seen me at school a couple times without a wheelchair, since I am often able to walk short distances without getting too close to passing out, so they were surprised by its presence.  One boy said to my son, “Why is your mom in a wheelchair?”  His answer, “She has POTS.”  End of conversation.  Like that kid had ANY CLUE what my son was talking about.  Totally cracked me up.

What were some of your childhood dreams?  Have you gotten to experience any?